China: Xi Jinping back for a third term as president

China: Xi Jinping back for a third term as president

Xi Jinping secured a historic third term as Chinese president on Friday after a formal vote by parliament, the culmination of a rise that has seen him become the country’s most powerful leader for generations.

The result of the deputies’ vote, announced shortly before 11 a.m. (3 a.m. GMT), is final: 2,952 votes for, zero against, zero abstentions. Since the parliament in China is, in practice, subservient to the ruling Communist Party (CCP), the outcome of the poll was in no doubt.

The 69-year-old leader had already obtained in October a five-year extension at the top of the CCP and the military commission, the two most important positions of power. The only candidate, he was reappointed for the same term as Head of State.

THE However, the last few months have been complicated for Xi Jinping, with large demonstrations at the end of November against his “zero Covid” policy and a major wave of deaths which followed the abandonment of this health strategy in December. Sensitive subjects carefully avoided during the current annual session of Parliament, a highly orchestrated event during which Li Qiang, an ally of Xi, should become the new Prime Minister to replace Li Keqiang.

MEPs have mainly focused in recent days on an institutional reform project aimed at beefing up the Ministry of Science and Technology and China’s digital capacities, in the face of what the government presents as Western “containment” against China in that sector.

Remarkable political rise

The annual session of Parliament was also an opportunity to announce a modest growth target of “around 5%” for 2023 and an increasing defense budget. Xi Jinping’s formal re-election to the top of the state crowns a remarkable political rise in which he has gone from politician little known to the general public to the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

Author of a biography on the president, the Swiss writer and journalist Adrian Geiges believes that personal enrichment is not his primary motivation. “That’s not what interests him,” he told AFP. “He really has a vision for China, he wants China to become the most powerful country in the world. »

For decades, the People’s Republic of China, scalded by political chaos and the cult of personality during the reign (1949-1976) of its leader and founder Mao Tse-tung, had promoted a more collegial governance at the top of power. Under this model, Xi Jinping’s predecessors, namely Jiang Zemin and then Hu Jintao, had each given up their place as president after ten years in this position.

But Xi put an end to this rule by abolishing the limit of two presidential terms in the Constitution in 2018, while allowing a quasi-cult of personality to develop around him. Xi Jinping thus becomes the supreme leader to stay in power for the longest time in recent Chinese history.

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